Tsaagan Tsar
on Sarah in Mongolia (Mongolia), 15/Feb/2010 07:29, 34 days ago
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Apologies if this post isn't terribly coherent - I have had a lot of vodka, Airag (femented mares milk)and Buuz so feeling a little sick!Yesterday Tsaagan Tsar started. Tsaagan Tsar is The Mongolian new year which falls at a similar time to the Chinese new year. For the two weeks before hand families make thousands of Buuz (meat dumplings)to feed all the visitors. The protocol is on the first day (Sunday) you visit your family members from oldest to youngest. On the second day you visit friends and relatives. So yesterday was a quiet day for me as everything was closed. But today I was invited to 2 colleagues houses, so I donned my Deel and headed out this morning. When you arrive at the house the oldest person sits at the head of the table and you greet them first saying Amar Bainuu and hand them some money. They great you by sniffing each side of your face (kind of like the European air kisses). Then you sit down at the table which has a mound of biscuits and either the back of a sheep or the chest of a cow on a slab on the table. As a guest it is your job to eat all the food that comes across the table - Salad, buuz, sweets and chocolate. It is a massive amount of food.The first house I went to was my counter part Burnee, and her family. One of my other colleagues had agreed to meet me and take me around the houses to show me what to do. Burnee has two young daughters who entertained us with dancing while we were waiting to eat. THey were very aware that I was a foreigner and had made me Buuz without extra oil and didn't press too much SuudeTsai on me. But I was expected to eat a lot! They also had the fermented mares milk which I hadn't had before - definitely not one of my favourite Mongolian dishes!THe second house I went to was my organisations directors house. She had a much larger house and a larger family. Unfortunately here they had extra oil in all the Buuz and a lot of vodka! She has a lovely family with older children, in their late 20's so it was great to meet them as well, and to have a lot of English conversation.This week in work has been an interesting one as I have managed to get VSO and MEA to agree to let me go part time at work. Hopefully this should mean I feel more fulfilled and achieve more in the 3 days i am at MEA. The plan is that I work the other 2 days at another VSO partner organisation so we shall see what comes up.Aside from that is was a quiet week as everyone was preparing for Tsaagan Tsar this weekend. This also meant we got a half day on Friday - which I hadn't been told about - surprise surprise!Anyway Friday night was a pizza party as usual and on Saturday Sarah had some people round for lunch which was great and they ended up staying half the night!!You probably wont here from me for the next 2 weeks as I have a lot going on. This week I am skiing tomorrow, having a pancake party in the evening, going to an eagle festival on Wednesday, doing a fundraising strategy on Thursday and then leaving for the Khuvsgul ice festival on Friday evening. I can't wait - it is going to be a great two weeks!